Work . . . with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you. (Philippians 2:12-13)
In our life together as Christians, Paul urges extreme care. We are to work out our salvation “with fear and trembling.” Those words suggest an awe-filled sense of our own responsibility. This attitude is required both towards God and one another.
Towards one another this fear and trembling means a deep respect for our fellow believers. We see their glory as the bearers of God’s grace, the recipients of his call. They are the apple of his eye. We must neither hinder nor wound them, but encourage them. Jesus once said: “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). They have important connections, so be careful.
Towards God this fear and trembling requires us to live with a sense of holy awe and wonder. Our salvation is God-driven. He is among us, and in us, and over us. The church’s mission is a holy enterprise. Paul tells us, moreover, that God works in us . . . for his good pleasure. This pleasure is not something capricious; rather, God finds his pleasure in our well-being. Our salvation makes him glad. So be careful how you live.
O God, help us to handle this salvation with great care. Amen.